Day Two on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail Was A Melt Down Day
5am in the camp site on the Inca Trail of Machu Picchu. We heard the movements of the porters and our guides going from tent to tent waking everyone with a cup of hot coca tea which helped the altitude sickness. The porters bring us boiled water to fill up our drink bottles.
Today was considered the hardest day of Machu Picchu as we climbed to Dead Woman’s Pass reaching an altitude of 4,200m above sea level.
After we enjoyed our substantial breakfast of porridge, toast, pancakes and hot chocolate we left the camp at 6am. The porters packed the tents, chairs, food and our extra luggage. These guys are really amazing, as we struggled with our little day pack of water and snacks they carry 15kg each and most of the time run to the next pit stop. Recent regulations stated that porters are not allowed to carry more than 15kg each on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail.
To Travel Too tip: ensure that the tour company you use has this policy and that they stick to it.
We trekked through Llulluchapampa seeing humming birds and other local species of birds that we didn’t recognise. Llamas looked on at us with amusement. From here the trail took us through the cloud forest before we entered the Puna, treeless grasslands only found at this altitude on the Andes. It was a tough climb that morning, the first three hours were all stone stairs, that took us right to the highest pass of the Inca Trail at Warmi Wanuska. We arrived breathless at the top and were rewarded with the spectacular views of the Andes, the Huananay and surrounding mountains covered in snow. We had made it up Dead Woman’s Pass. It was freezing cold but well worth this tough climb. One step, one deep breath, on it goes.
As you know what goes up, must come down. Thinking that the climb up was the hardest for us to do, we were not prepared for the down. We gingerly traversed the left side of the pass down to our campsite for lunch at Paqaymayu sitting at 3600m above sea level.
This is where Jane had a major wobble. She coped with the upward climb, but really struggled with coming down. Her fear is the fear of falling down the steep steps. We were so pleased we opted for walking poles each as this certainly had helped. But nothing had prepared us for the uneven steps which you had to navigate on your bottom coupled with the steepness of the path. Struggling to eat lunch and holding back tears Jane sat by the river and contemplated the next move.
She couldn’t go back at this stage, if there was an injury they call for a horse, but she didn’t have an injury. She was overcome with tiredness. Jane was also worried that as she is slow she is holding up the others in the group.
Victor, our guide, was very supportive, he is there to challenge us all and to ensure that we trek in a safe and secure manner. He suggested we start trekking now before the others had finished their lunch. We had to remember this is not a race, and there is always a guide bringing up the rear. Victor and the rest of the group of course would catch us up in due course. He pointed out the path up the mountain and explained there is no way that we will get lost, he will catch up with us by the time we reach the summit.
Jane took a deep breath, pulled herself together, and we started out. Climbing slowly, we left the group behind us beside the river enjoying their last moments of rest before they too headed off. We headed towards Runkuraqay, in the rhythm that we were getting used to, one step, one breath. The others caught us up and passed us as we started the slow descent to our next campsite arriving at 6pm. We were still one of the last of the group to arrive, another couple were feeling the affects of altitude sickness and the four of us arrived into camp in darkness. Our group were patiently waiting for us in the dinner tent and our meal of Peruvian Vegetable Soup, pasta and chicken was welcome, washed down with lots of hot chocolate and coca tea.
The temperature dropped at night to well below freezing. We were wearing all our clothes as the sleeping bag we purchased was not of the right thickness for this weather. The toilets were behind our camp site and we needed our head lamps to guide us in the dark.
To Travel Too tip: ensure that the sleeping bag you purchase is suitable for the climate
Total trekking distance on Day 2 of Machu Picchu 17km. Duration: 12 hours (Jane’s speed)
Want to know more about our Inca Trail Machu Picchu Trek:
Day One Machu Picchu
Day Three Machu Picchu
Day Four Machu Picchu